Feedback and the drive to recreate the Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Psychocandy” were the impetuses for the Magnetic Fields’ eighth studio album, appropriately titled “Distortion.” In what was supposed to be a month-long project, “Distortion” took a year-and-a-half, primarily due to the mixing involved. The 13-song set is due this week via Nonesuch.
“The impetus started with a lunch with Nonesuch, where they said, ‘Why don’t you make a record quickly?'” principal songwriter Stephin Merritt says. “So I thought to myself, ‘What could I record in a month? What would I do if I was forced to be a normal person and have a band that sounded the same from song to song, and not be bored?’ I would be the Jesus & Mary Chain.”
Indeed, “Distortion” is a radical shift in sound from 2004’s orchestral-folk album “i.” “It was pretty much the same sound, just wildly distorted — just a lot of feedback,” Merritt jokes. “But all the same instruments were used [that were on ‘I’] except the ukulele.”
“Just getting into the sound that’s raw and dirty and not inaudible takes a lot of work,” he continues. “Now I realize that the ‘power trio’ format, when you want the guitars as distorted as possible and to be able to hear the chord changes, it helps if nothing else is happening.”